As if Wedgewood-Houston wasn’t hip enough — with its new bars, breweries, restaurants and distilleries popping up all over in the past couple years — they are about to be home to Nashville’s first craft cider maker. While cider isn’t as exotic as sake, it is probably at least equally misunderstood. In Europe and apple-growing regions like New York or the Pacific Northwest, cider drinkers are used to craftier products made in small batches that exhibit complex flavors and appropriately dry characteristics. The rest of us grew up on ciders from huge production facilities that ferment reconstituted apple juice concentrate sweetened with corn syrup.
Diskin founders Adam Diskin and Todd Evans had been fans of fine cider for years, and Diskin grew up in apple-centric Washington state. After years of success in other industries, the pair of friends decided to start up a passion project. “We made some really bad cider at first,” says Diskin. “We bought some lousy apples and didn’t have good control of our internal processes.” They knew they would have to acquire proper training.
The pair attended a cider school (yes, that’s a thing) taught by noted British expert Peter Mitchell. After the intensive training, Diskin and Evans knew they were ready to venture out, and they consulted with Mitchell to design the ideal production facility. In the meantime while they were building out their cidery, the duo continued to study the culture of cider and think about exactly what sorts of beverages they wanted to produce.
“Cider was a colonial drink, long before beer,” says Diskin. “That’s what Johnny Appleseed was spreading, cider apple trees. Until the Prohibitionists plowed under the orchards, cider was among the most popular drinks in the country.”
Ultimately, cider is a regional product, and not every part of the country has access to the best varieties of apples to make it. Even if a grower planted an orchard today, it would be at least seven years before those trees produced their first fruit. With this in mind, Diskin Cider sought out apples from premier growing areas in Michigan, Washington and Pennsylvania. For freshness, the apples are pressed and fermented at the orchard and shipped by the truckload to Tennessee.
Once the Diskin cidery opens for production in May, it will receive these fresh-pressed juices and completely eschew the use of concentrates. Their brewhouse will employ three 3,200-gallon fermenters and two 2,000-gallon bright tanks for blending and carbonating their ciders after fermentation has finished. Production will take about two weeks including time in both tanks, filtration and packaging in bottles or cans. All canned products will also go through the extra step of pasteurization.
The attractive tasting room and cidery is located in a former truck repair shop. Diskin and Evans intentionally chose to remodel instead of building from scratch to help preserve the integrity of the neighborhood. “We’re ecstatic to be the first at something in Nashville,” says Diskin. “It’s hard to do that anymore! We recognize that we’ll have to educate our customers about cider, but that’s why we’re building out the tasting room to be so approachable.”
The taproom will feature eight or nine Diskin products, along with a handful of local beers and a selection of local spirits to make cider-based cocktails. The cidery has already earned acclaim for four products that are available in bars and retail stores around town. The most popular is Lil’ Blondie, Diskin’s first product made for cider newcomers. Crisp and slightly sweet, Lil’ Blondie weighs in at 5.6 percent ABV, similar to a craft beer. Bob’s Your Uncle is a more traditional English-style dry cider, with a higher alcohol level and a more tannic character that makes it popular with fans of IPAs and dry white wines. Sweeter options include Tiki Tonic, a “pool pounder” perfect for hot weather thanks to the addition of pineapple juice and a hint of lime, as well as Six One Five, Diskin’s homage to fruit tea that combines apple cider with pineapple, orange, lemon and real Southern sweet tea.
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